The sights, the sounds, the feeling of hope (and quite frankly, some despair too) – there’s nothing like a trip to the casino.
You don’t need to be a gambling aficionado to appreciate the casino experience, but you should read up on a few things before you go. Namely, the difference between acceptable behavior and that which could earn you a few dirty looks during your visit.
If you don’t frequent the gambling floor it’s understandable that you might not understand all the rules – written or unwritten – that you’re expected to follow. In this article, I’ll go over 5 things that are considered to be bad casino etiquette.
1 – Picture Taking
In nearly all circumstances, there is no reason to get out your camera and take a picture at a casino. Everyone knows you’re just showing off innocently to your online friends, but photography is a big no-no in nearly all gambling venues.
Aside from just being annoying or getting in the way of people who are actually trying to gamble, photography presents a threat to the integrity of the games themselves. To the average person a photo of a blackjack or poker table might not mean much, but those who know how to manipulate these games can use the still images to their advantage.
Above all, pit bosses are in charge of making sure there’s no “funny business” going on in their section. No matter the reason, if you’re taking a photograph you’re going to draw some unwanted attention to yourself and may even be asked to leave (in most cases, though, they’ll just ask you to put it away).
Finally, there are some people who don’t want to be photographed drinking, gambling, or both. Inevitably you’ll capture some individuals in the background of your photograph that are unwilling participants in your photo. By snapping away, you risk making others feel uncomfortable which is something that the pit boss will reprimand you for every time.
The bottom line is photography doesn’t belong on the gaming floor. Save the camera for the bar area, restaurant, hotel room, or outside.
2 – Putting Your Drink on the Table
With all the excitement taking place, it can be easy to get carried away in a fit of celebration or disappointment. If you’re drinking, that could mean your glass is in jeopardy of unexpectedly spilling its contents all over the (surprisingly expensive) felt table.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your first trip to the casino or you’re a regular at the establishment, there’s simply no excuse for letting the situation I described above take place on your watch. It’s understandable that your drink is probably not going to be the main focus of your attention at all times. With that said, try to get in the habit of keeping it in a safe place at all times. It only takes one mishap to get on the house’s “bad side.”
3 – Not Knowing Your Hand Signals
Those hand movements which players use to indicate their intentions to the dealer aren’t just for show. In fact, in a loud, busy casino they can help avoid any confusion during the player/dealer exchange.
The good news here is that there are really only a few basic movements that you need to know depending on which games you’re going to be playing. For example, real money blackjack – the most common table game at casinos – only has three movements to learn.
When you want to “hit” (get dealt another card), tap the table lightly. If you want to “stand” (keep what you have and not get an additional card), wave your hand with your palm open a few inches above the playing surface. After deciding that you want to double down on your original bet and split your cards, place your bet next to the original bet. Keep in mind that if you’re doubling down, don’t place your chips on top of the old bet, always beside.
4 – Asking the Dealer to Explain the Rules
Before I get into this one, let me clarify: there may be some times when unusual situations happen during the course of a game where it’s understandable to lean on the dealer for some insight. What I’m talking about here is sitting down at the table with only a very basic knowledge of a particular game and relying on the dealer to help you fill in the blanks.
Some of the most common casino games, like blackjack and roulette, are very easy to learn. While you might not be able to recall all the odds and probabilities at first, you should be able to get yourself to a place where you can enter and exit the table without needing to ask for guidance.
The dealer, in most cases, will be happy to assist you if something comes up and it’s clear that you’re confused. However, if this becomes a habit you’ll notice he or she will start getting annoyed that you didn’t come prepared.
The bottom line is that you don’t want to put the dealer in an awkward position due to your own lack of preparation. This means never asking something like, “What would you do here?” or “How should I play this one?” Trust me, they want you to win (more winnings means more potential tips), but they don’t have the secret to success.
If you’re unfamiliar with a certain game, feel free to observe (from a reasonable distance, of course) a table without participating so you can get more acquainted with the procedures involved. Or better yet, try playing at online casinos – with real money or fake money – in order to really understand how the game function before doing it in person.
You aren’t expected to understand every possible scenario that could happen, but don’t try to make the dealer your personal teacher. If you do, you’re going to annoy everyone at the table, including dealers themselves.
5 – Not Cashing Out With Bigger Denominations
This one isn’t all that big of a deal, but if you aren’t acquainted with the proper chip cash-out procedure your inexperience will be on display for all to see.
In most table games you’re not going to be only using the chip with the highest denomination for all your bets. That means if you wanted, you could exchange several chips for one chip of equal value. When you decide you’re ready to cash out and leave the table, that’s exactly what you should do.
For example, if you have six $25 chips and five $10 chips, you should exchange your 11 total chips for two $100 chips. With that being said, don’t neglect to tip your dealer. If you don’t have the cash on you to provide a tip in that way, ask him or her to give you chip denominations that allow for a tip.
This particular piece of casino etiquette can get overlooked, but rest-assured that this is just one of the many ways people are able to tell who knows what they’re doing, and who is learning on the job.
6 – Drinking Too Much and Letting It Show
Nobody’s expecting you to stay completely sober while you’re playing casino games (although your bankroll might want that). However, the line between “having a good time” and behaving in a way that could get you kicked out is often much finer than you’d think.
Some classic tell-tale signs of being overly intoxicated include, but are not limited to: excessive celebration or frustration after winning or losing, speaking too loudly and becoming a nuisance to everyone within 20 feet of you, inability to communicate with the dealer and casino staff in a mature way, and many more that you can fill in for yourself.
Not only are you going to get dirty looks from casino staff and patrons alike, but over-indulging puts you at risk of losing money and making bad decisions.
Again, nobody’s asking you to abstain from drinking – just act like an adult and don’t get sloppy.
The casino is its own little world full of rules both on the books and unwritten. If this article has you a little intimidated about your next visit, don’t be. Casino workers have seen it all and as long as you’re trying to be a decent person they’ll give you a pass, at least initially.
Remember, a little preparation and self-control can save you quite a bit of embarrassment.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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